Sunday, 4th January 2009

MSMAS 2009 to be ‘Year of Culture and Enlightenment’....

Every year the MSMAS Dojo plans ahead...


Past years have been:

• 2004       ‘Year of Intent’
• 2005       ‘Year of Judo’
• 2006       ‘Year of Competition’
• 2007       ‘Year of Attainment’
• 2008       ‘Year of Diligence & Perseverance’

2009 will be 'Year of Culture and Enlightenment’...

This will be made possible by the combined efforts of Shuichi Terashima Sensei and Izumi Maeda, both Japanese Nationals and Members of MSMAS, plus input from Dai Nippon Butoku Kai in Kyoto, Japan. No doubt Akemi Solloway (ne Tanaka) will also be involved.

Already we have events planned:

January 11      UK           'Kagami Biraki' to celebrate arrival of New Year … see notes below 
March 1         UK           Japan-UK 150 'Bushido Festival'
April 24/27     UK          MSMAS Spring 2009 Gasshuku
August 16/27  Japan       Elite 'Budo Seminar' & 'DNBK ID Rensei Taikai'.
October 9/10  Greece     DNBKID 'European Budo Rensei Taikai'.

So as the year unfolds, even more events of a cultural nature will be unveiled, so that everyone at MSMAS can be made more aware of the heritage and customs of Japan.

• January 11     UK     'Kagami Biraki' to celebrate arrival of New Year 

Many Japanese Martial Arts Dojo use the Kagami Biraki ceremony to signify their first practice of the New Year.

Kagami Biraki (鏡開き) is a Japanese phrase which literally translates to "Opening the Mirror" (from an abstinence) or, also, "Breaking of the Mochi." It traditionally falls on the January 11 (odd numbers are associated with being good luck in Japan) but, in practice outside of Japan, generally occurs around that date. It is generally the first important event of the year after New Years Day. It refers to the opening of a Kagami mochi, or to the opening of a cask of Sake at a party or ceremony.

The 4th Tokugawa Shogun was the first one to hold this ceremony 300 years ago. Before going to war he gathered his daimyo in his castle to break open a sake cask. The battle was successful, so from there on a new ceremony was born.

The ceremony nowadays is also performed at weddings, sporting events, starting a new company, etc.
In Japan, mochi was traditionally made at home, but most families today buy it ready-made. Over the holidays, a pair of round mochi (kagami mochi) the size of small plates -- one a little larger than the other -- is stacked on a stand and placed in a household Shinto altar or tokonoma as an offering to the deities that visit on New Year's. The ornamental mochi is removed on January 11 and broken into smaller pieces before being eaten.

By this time, the kagami mochi is usually quite brittle, and cracks appear on the surface. The mochi is not cut with a knife, since cutting has negative connotations (cutting off ties) and is instead broken with one's hands or a hammer.


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